Education Endowment Foundation:Teacher Observation

Teacher Observation

University of Bristol
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

NFER logo
Test the impact of structured, peer observation on teachers’ effectiveness.
Pupils: 14100 Schools: 82 Grant: £1,180,000
Key Stage: 4 Duration: 4 year(s) 10 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed November 2017

The Teacher Observation intervention trained teachers in a structured observation approach. Teachers used software to rate their colleagues across a range of pre-specified components, such as managing student behaviour and communicating with students. Teachers were instructed to conduct a minimum of either three or four observations per year.

Teacher observation is an integral part of CPD in English schools. A recent US study found that structured lesson observation led to gains in student and teacher performance. The EEF funded this evaluation to explore the impact of structured teacher observation in the English context.

The evaluation did not show any overall improvement in combined maths and English GCSE scores for pupils of the teachers involved

The total number of teacher observations was much lower than expected: teachers involved in the trial reported that they felt uncomfortable taking time out of teaching to complete observations, and that the level of expected observations was unsustainable. However, even when observations did take place, there was no evidence that schools which did more observations had better pupil results.

It is important to note that many of the comparison schools reported that they were already doing peer observation of some sort. This evaluation does not mean that general peer observation has no impact, but rather that this structured observation programme was not found to have any benefits over the status quo

  1. The project found no evidence that Teacher Observation improves combined GCSE English and maths scores.
  2. The project found no evidence of impact of the intervention on the GCSE English and maths attainment of pupils who have ever been eligible for FSM.
  3. The number of observations were below the developer’s initial expectations:teachers had difficulty fitting in the required number of observations because of timetabling and arranging cover, and some experienced problems using the software.
  4. Teacher engagement with the programme varied greatly across schools, and practice ranged from individuals simply recording some observations using the RANDA software to whole-school, collaborative planning, discussion and reflection as part of an integrated CPD programme.
  5. Almost three-quarters of the control group schools were already doing some peer observation prior to the intervention. The lack of impact seen in this study may be because the structured Teacher Observation intervention was no more effective than existing practice rather than because general peer observation has no impact.
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Combined GCSE maths & English
Months' progress
Combined GCSE maths & English (FSM eligible pupils)
Months' progress